Kurukshetra Magazine is a vital source of study material for the UPSC IAS exam. It is a monthly magazine that gives information about important government schemes and programmes in various sectors. Kurukshetra is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Kurukshetra, exclusively for the IAS Exam.
Chapter 1: Adopting a Holistic Approach Towards Rural Development
- India has over 1.3 billion people spread over 650,000+ villages, 4000+ small towns and cities, 715 aspirational districts, and 8 Tier-1 metro cities. India enjoys a demographic dividend with over 65 percent of its population being under 35 years.
- Over 70 percent of the population of India are in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities and in rural India which continues to be an agriculture dominated economy.
- Since ancient times, the Indian rural ecosystem has been an agrarian economy predominately dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The rural workforce has always been dependent on agriculture as its primary source of income. However, a shift in the recent few years has been witnessed, with the youth engaging themselves in various sectors which are not directly aligned to the agriculture sector.
Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
- Today, we are in a world which is ideating and innovating constantly, and this has been the driving force for both economies and countries. The advent of numerous startups is driving the creation of jobs and up-skilling among the youth.
- Start-ups are creating more new job opportunities per year as compared to the jobs generated by established firms as seen in countries like the U.S. and Israel. In contrast, Japan has lost its significance in the growing global economy due to stagnation in entrepreneurial activity.
- India is well known globally for its rapidly growing digital prowess, technological capabilities and its innovative spirit. With over 55000+startups, 400+incubators and over 34 unicorns, India is rightly being perceived as one of the fastest-growing start-up nations of the world. However, percolation of the start-up environment and innovation has been fragmented and has not reached the rural, Tier III and Tier IV cities due to various factors.
Advent of new tech:
- The global economy is galloping towards growth by leveraging emerging technologies like 3D printing, robotics, IoT and sensor technologies, augmented and virtual reality that are becoming advanced yet affordable, accessible and available.
- The entrepreneurial innovative youth force needs to be equipped with the right skills and empowered by a supportive innovation ecosystem.
- There is a need to drive a focussed approach in the rural regions by providing the rural youth with basic factors viz. start-up capital, skill-building institutions to boost innovator confidence, risk appetite culture, etc.
Delivering Quality Education:
- The current education system needs game-changing radical transformations in its approach and methodologies to keep pace with the rapidly changing trends and digital capabilities of technology.
- The education ecosystem, considering the substantial technological changes, must focus on building an experiential model of learning for the school kids. The need for technology-driven practical education has been stated in the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
- There is a need to ensure that young school students are equipped with the right skill sets required to adopt the next-gen technologies.
- Better education will drive towards building better equipped budding entrepreneurs and better job seekers thus contributing to the ecosystem.
- Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) launched by the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog is a welcome move. Atal Tinkering Labs are state of the art labs created in schools where children are introduced to new emerging technology toolkits.
- There is also a year-round teacher training program which is run to equip the school teachers with the right skill sets and introduce them to the new technologies.
Developing Youth as Change Makers:
- India is a big market and provides a lot of opportunities and with this also come frugal ‘Jugaad’ innovations that are created in our country. There is a need to provide a sustainable path for the development and commercialisation of these developed innovations.
- Providing an institutional-based structure to the young innovators and supporting them with institutional structures like incubators/accelerators will help them become agents of change and drive the economy.
- Atal Innovation Mission of NITI Aayog has established Atal Community Innovation Centres (ACICs) in the underserved/unserved regions of the country. These ACICs will focus on providing young innovators with an opportunity to grow and make a difference.
- The creation of a rural community youth fellowship program is a welcome initiative in harnessing the talent of young innovators in rural areas. By giving the youth space and support to start and grow local enterprises, the fellowship would create much-needed momentum required for entrepreneurship in the region and would provide a kickstart to the rural economy. The fellowship program is strongly supported by a Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) network.
Digital Push and Transformation of the Agrarian Economy :
- Farm mechanisation and the creation of sustainable value chains has been a pain point that not many innovators have been able to solve. The farm to fork model is complex and has challenges.
- With the advent of new technologies like Al and blockchain, the entrepreneurs can solve the farming woes of the country by providing inputs on the growing patterns of the crops, providing farmers with the knowledge of domestic and global demands of the market, providing the farmers with quality seeds, technology-driven irrigation and precision agriculture mechanisms, water conservation, and demand forecast based market opportunities in the pre-harvesting phase.
Chapter 2: Swachh Bharat Mission Phase II Aims for Sampoorna Swachhata
Swachh Bharat Mission Phase I:
- Swachh Bharat Mission in its first phase devoted itself to making India open defecation free (ODF).
- The Swachh Bharat Mission became the world’s largest behaviour change programme by working towards making India open defecation free in a period of five years.
- Rural sanitation coverage has increased from 39 percent in 2014 to 100 percent in 2019 with over 10.2 crore toilets built across Indian districts.
- Various global agencies such as UNICEF, WHO and others have estimated significant economic, educational, environmental, health and social impacts of the Swachh Bharat Mission’s ODF achievements.
- India achieved the SDG Goal for providing safe sanitation for all 11 years before the targeted year of 2030.
- The success of the programme is attributed to the 4 Ps – political leadership, public financing, partnerships and public participation.
Swachh Bharat Mission Phase II:
- The Government of India, in February 2020, approved the Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Grameen (SBM-G) to focus on solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) and on the sustainability of ODF status.
- The Swachh Bharat Mission in its second phase is committed to achieving Sampoorna Swachhata by transforming the mission into a Jan Andolan.
- The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation is implementing it in Mission Mode from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
- Phase lI will provide impetus to the rural economy through the construction of household toilets and need-based community sanitary complexes, as well as the infrastructure for solid and liquid waste management such as compost pits, soak pits, waste stabilisation ponds, bio-gas plants, material recovery facilities, etc.
Objectives of the SBM Phase II:
- The key objective of the SBM Phase II is to make villages across India ODF Plus villages. An ODF Plus village is defined as a village that sustains its open defecation free (ODF) status and also ensures solid and liquid waste management and is visually clean.
- The components of the SBM Phase II include the construction of individual household latrines, retrofitting of toilets, need-based construction of community sanitary complexes, biodegradable waste management. GOBAR-dhan (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources-dhan), plastic waste management, greywater management and faecal sludge management.
Guiding Principles for SBM Phase II:
- Ensuring that no one is left behind. Need to ensure that all eligible households may be provided with an incentive to build toilets.
- Promotion of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle principle to reduce the generation of waste at source.
- The utilisation of Existing SLWM infrastructure wherever possible by rejuvenating, upgrading and putting them to use.
- Clustering of villages to achieve maximum economic efficiency.
- Encouragement of technologies with low operation and maintenance costs.
- States will have flexibility by deciding the appropriate implementation mechanism and technologies.
- Convergence with other schemes.
- Creating self-sustainable revenue models/business models by encouraging the private sector to leverage its expertise and resources for meeting the growing demand of SLWM. Promote interventions that are based on remunerative models and on principles of cost-sharing, cost recovery and revenue generation.
Information, Education and Communication (IEC):
- Phase I is claimed as the world’s largest behaviour change communication programme. The IEC of the Swachh Bharat Mission campaign had seen thousands of behaviour change campaigns, iconic mass media campaigns and participation of millions of students, women, teachers, cadets, celebrities, political leaders, faith leaders and people from all walks of life; making it a true Jan Andolan.
- SBM Phase II also aims at behaviour change of the masses to adopt better sanitation and hygiene practices. Therefore, IEC is the key to the success of the SBM.
- 5 percent of the total project expenditure has been provided for IEC and Capacity Building for SBM(G) Phase II. In Phase I, it was 8 percent for the IEC.
- States/UTs are expected to lead the IEC and Behaviour Change Communication (BCC).
- Key IEC messages for ODF Plus are – Waste Segregation and Source, Menstrual Waste Management and Hygiene Promotion.
- Training workshops, refresher trainings for sensitisation, awareness generation and technical know-how are important to build the capacity of human resources to lead and sustain SBM Phase II activates.
Role of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs):
- As per the Constitution 73rd Amendment Act, 1992, sanitation is included in the 11th Schedule. Therefore, the role of Gram Panchayats (GP) is pivotal in implementing SBM (G). All institutions and committees working within the GP framework have to prioritise sanitation within their programmes.
- Receiving funds, subject to conformity with State arrangements, and contributing from their own resources for the financing of community toilets and SLWM infrastructure are some of the important roles of the PRIs.
- The GP is also the custodian of the assets such as community sanitary complexes, drainages and SLWM infrastructure.
Financial Planning and Programme Funding:
- SBM (G) is a centrally sponsored scheme with fund sharing pattern between the Centre and the States being 90:10 for North-Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and UT of Jammu and Kashmir; 100 percent from Centre for remaining UTs and in a ratio of 60:40 for other States.
- The SBM (G) Phase II funds are released to States/UTs based on their performance and ability to achieve programme results.
- A condition for the release of funds from the Centre is that only after the respective government provides the undertaking that the funds earmarked under the 15th Finance Commission grants for sanitation activities are being devolved to rural local bodies, SBM (G) funds will be released to the States.
- The 15th Finance Commission provided tied grants for sanitation to rural local bodies.
Research and Development:
- Review of sanitation technologies, promotion of appropriate technologies, strengthening decentralised O&M and use of technology for monitoring the progress of the programme are some of the areas worth focussing on.
- A Research and Development Advisory Committee under the chairpersonship of Joint/Additional Secretary of the Department works to promote research and development activities for sanitation.
Chapter 3: Education in Rural India: Schemes for Women and Youth
- The vision of a modern India, free from poverty, rests overwhelmingly on the growth and development of rural India.
- The education for children and skill training for adults is ultimately the only way to help rural Indians escape the poverty trap they find themselves in and make them self-reliant.
Challenge in the educational sector:
Decreasing enrolment observed in higher education:
- Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was 56.2 percent at the senior secondary level as compared to 99.2 percent at the primary level.
- GER denotes enrolment as a percent of the population of the corresponding age group.
- According to the 2018-19 all-India survey on higher education (AUSHE), GER in higher education in India is 26.3 percent, which is calculated for the 18-23 years of age group.
- The Right to Education Act, 2009 has been successful in achieving near-universal enrolment in elementary education, however, retaining children remains a challenge for the schooling system.
Socially disadvantaged classes:
- The decline in GER is higher for certain socio-economically disadvantaged groups, based on gender identities (female, transgender persons), socio-cultural identities (scheduled castes, scheduled tribes), geographical identities (students from small villages and small towns), socio-economic identities (migrant communities and low-income household), and disabilities.
- More than 12 percent of rural households in India did not have secondary schools within 5 km whereas in urban areas this percentage is less than one percent.
- According to the 2018-19 data, 0.53 percent of colleges are located in rural areas.
Inadequate resource allocation:
- The current public (Central Government and State Governments) expenditure on education in India has been around 4.43 percent of GDP (Analysis of Budgeted Expenditure 2017-18).
- This is low comparable to similarly placed economies.
Impact of poor education on society and economy:
- Incomplete and poor quality education translates into a workforce that is unable to find remunerative work and survives on low paid, unstable jobs. This will have a detrimental impact on not only the economy but will have a social impact as well.
Initiatives in the Education Sector:
Samagra Shiksha Scheme:
- The Government of India has launched Samagra Shiksha — an integrated scheme for school education with effect from 2018-19. It envisages the ‘school’ as a continuum from pre-school, primary, upper primary, secondary to senior secondary levels and subsumes the three erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes—Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE).
- Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the scheme. It reaches out to girls and children belonging to SCs, STs, minority communities and transgender. The scheme also gives attention to urban deprived children, children affected by periodic migration and children living in remote and scattered habitation.
- Acknowledging that issues such as lack of toilets in schools and unavailability of schools within a short distance play a big role in school dropouts, especially among girls, the scheme supports states for strengthening of school infrastructure including in rural areas. The scheme provides for the infrastructural strengthening of existing government schools based on the gaps determined by the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE).
- Under Samagra Shiksha, various interventions have been targeted to promote education, which include opening of schools in the neighbourhood, provision of free text-books up to Class VIII, uniforms to all girls and SC, ST, BPL boys up to class VIII, provision of gender segregated toilets in all schools, teachers’ sensitisation programmes to promote girls’ participation, construction of residential quarters for teachers in remote/hilly areas/in areas with difficult terrain.
- There is a provision for twinning of schools under which well-functioning private or government schools in urban or semi-urban areas are linked with schools located in rural areas for interaction and exchange of experience.
- Vocational skills training is also a major component under the Samagra Shiksha scheme.
National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme:
- Meritorious students belonging to the economically weaker sections can avail the benefit of scholarships under the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidalayas (JNVs):
- The main objective of the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) is to provide good quality modern education — including a strong component of inculcation of values, awareness of the environment, adventure activities and physical education — to talented children predominantly from the rural areas without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.
Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS):
- Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMR5) were introduced in 1997-96 to provide quality upper primary, secondary and senior secondary level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas to enable them to access the best opportunities in education and to bring them at par with the general population.
Mid-Day Meal Scheme:
- The Mid-Day Meals Scheme is targeted at young children studying upto Class VIII. It helps in ensuring that young children from disadvantaged sections like poor, dalits, tribals, girls and children of the labour work force in schools get nutritious mid-day meals in rural areas.
- Approximately 11.59 crore children in around 11.5 lakh schools benefit daily from MDM.
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas:
- Residential schools from classes VI to XII for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
Targetted intervention for Girls:
- Free text-books to girls up to Class VIII, uniforms to all girls up to class VIII, provision of gender segregated toilets in all schools, teachers’ sensitisation programmes to promote girls’ participation, provision for self-defence training for the girls from classes VI to XII.
- The National Education Policy 2020 envisages the holistic development of learners by equipping them with key 21st-century skills. It emphasises on integration between vocational and academic streams in all schools and higher education institutions in a phased manner.
Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS):
- As education with skills is the need of the hour, the government launched the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills (SHREYAS) in 2019.
- It aims to cover 50 lakh students by 2022 by providing ‘on the job work exposure’ and stipend with a view to introducing employable skills into their learning, promote apprenticeship as integral to education and also amalgamate employment facilitating efforts of the government into the education system.
National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS):
- It aims to provide skill training to fresh graduates, diploma holders in engineering and technology and Plus 2 vocational pass-outs.
- The government has proposed to integrate apprenticeship embedded degree programmes to give impetus to vocational training.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY):
- The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is implementing Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-20 with an objective to provide skilling to one crore people under Short Term Training (STT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) across the country for four years i.e. 2016-2020.
Initiatives for rural women:
Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme:
- It is a centrally sponsored scheme under the Ministry of Women and Child Development to empower rural women through community participation.
- Capacity building of women collectives is envisaged in collaboration with non-governmental organisation (NGOs)/co-operatives societies/Krishi Vigyan Kendras to address livelihood needs of women, particularly those in remote/vulnerable areas where women are not in a position to move out individually out of their immediate surroundings for formal skill training.
Saakshar Bharat Programme:
- The objective of this programme is to achieve an 80 percent literacy level at the national level, by focusing on adult women literacy and seeking to reduce the gap between male and female literacy to not more than 10 percentage points.
- The programme provided for coverage of only rural areas in the eligible districts. As per the 2011 Census, literacy rate in rural areas stood at 67.67 percent.
Padhna Likhna Ahhiyaan:
- The Padhna Likhna Abhiyan has been rolled out to replace Saakshar Bharat Scheme.
- It focuses on achieving 100 percent literacy by 2030. Under this scheme, massive literacy projects will be launched in the tribal and forests areas, prisons, slums, etc., with technology as a facilitator.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:
- The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme works to develop an enabling environment for girl child education. It addresses the issues relating to the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and aims to change the mindset of people so as to make them appreciate the value of the girl child.
- Evaluation of the BBBP scheme carried out by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in August 2020 has indicated a positive behavioural change towards the value of girl child. The sex ratio at birth has shown an improvement of 16 points at the national level from 918 (2014-15) to 934 (2019-20).
- According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate in India was 5.8 percent in 2018-19. It was 5.6 percent among males and 3.5 percent among females in rural areas, while the rates were 7.1 percent among males and 9.9 percent among females in urban area.
- In 2018-19, the unemployment rate for youth in the 15-29 years age bracket moderated but remained high at 17.3 percent, as against 17.8 percent a year ago.
Chapter 4: Recent Farm Bills and Benefits to Farmers
- Indian agriculture is characterised by millions of farmers cultivating more than 200 fields, horticultural and plantation crops across the country in three distinct seasons of Kharif, Rabi and Zaid (summer) on over 141 million hectares of cultivated land.
Challenges in the agricultural sector:
Poor capacity of post-harvest infrastructure:
- The marketed surplus ratio (MSR) of all the commodities has increased substantially during recent years. These produce arrive in huge bulk in the market in a very short span of time, many a time, beyond the absorption capacity of the domestic demand and the management capacity of the existing market infrastructure.
Poor price discovery for the farmers:
- The system of price discovery in the markets of APMCs has become heavily monopolistic in the hands of select aggregators and commission agents.
Lack of uptake of contract farming:
- Farmers at large have had reservations in entering contract farming.
Prohibitive nature of ECA:
- Investments and active private participation have been dismally low due to frequent imposition of the Essential Commodity Act (ECA) limiting the storage, often much lower than the existing inventory of the industrial establishments or the warehouse capacity of the private traders. The ECA has proved prohibitive rather than facilitative.
Recent agricultural reforms:
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were passed by the Parliament recently.
- These bills have been termed path-breaking and historic. Read more on the farm acts, 2020.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and facilitation) Bill, 2020:
- India is likely to produce a huge surplus of agricultural commodities in the next 10 years much beyond the absorption capacity of the domestic market. The inadequacies of infrastructure and systems of present-day agricultural marketing may not be able to handle this surplus.
- Agriculture markets are too sparse and fragmented leading to glut and price crash in some markets while there are shortages and high prices at major demand centres.
- More than 86 percent of farmers are under the small and marginal category with average holdings of 0.38 ha. The likely surplus with them for offering to sale is low and much low for them to approach any APMC mandi individually due to lack of economies of scale. The aggregators offer much less price to producers.
- The restrictive regulations of the APMCs/ECA have dampened investments for post-harvest infrastructure and logistics.
- The FPTC Act provides the freedom to sell and buy farm produce at any place in the country, promote e-commerce and allows the setting up of an electronic platform, and enable direct purchase from the farmers at their farm. Thus the FPTC Act, 2020 will be empowering the farmers to decide the price of his/her produce rather than be passive recipients of the price decided by the commission agents in the APMC mandis.
- A market or aggregation centre close to production sites with some mechanism of price assurance can encourage the small and marginal farmers (SMF) to diversify towards high-value crops.
- Higher private investment could happen with reforms in the agricultural market leading to price assurances and an unabated flow of food items. This could also aid in the creation of alternate channels of marketing and more competition in the transaction leading to transparent price discovery and better price realization to the farmers.
- The new bill may help establish a robust and accountable market intelligence system packed with technology and well-trained scientific manpower to minimise the chances of any manipulation in the prices of the produce.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020:
- APAFS Bill 2020 is an improvement over the old one. The APAFS Bill 2020 will facilitate an assured price to the farmers for his produce as mutually agreed between farmers and sponsor before the commencement of production operations, and the technologies, services and inputs on mutually agreed terms and conditions for the production of desired quality produce.
- The sponsor is neither permitted to lease-in the land of the farmers, nor can he/she erect any assets of permanent nature on farmers’ lands or modify it or acquire the ownership rights.
- The farmers will be the sole custodian of all production operations and are sufficiently empowered to negotiate the price of their produce before production. The farmer will dictate his terms for price settlement to a buyer.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020:
- The commodities enlisted in ECA such as cereals, edible oils and oils can only be regulated under extraordinary circumstances like war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamities.
- A transparent criterion has been laid down on imposing or regulating stock limits. The inbuilt predictability in the Government’s action which would be based on a price trigger rather than mere perception as used to happen in the past augurs well for the economy. The modifications in ECA will encourage big investment in creating much-needed infrastructures like warehouses, cold storages, pack houses, and logistics.
- The Government by enacting three Bills for agricultural marketing, contract farming and essential commodity, has tried to eliminate unhealthy and exploitative rules and procedures.
Chapter 5: Panchayati Raj System towards Changing Rural India
- The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi advocated Panchayati Raj as the foundation of India’s political system where a decentralised form of governance structure is established at each village. He advocated the empowerment of panchayats for the development of rural areas.
- Recognising the importance of panchayats, the Constitution makers included the provision of panchayats in Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Indian Constitution. Article 40 of the Constitution conferred the responsibility upon the State to take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such power and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.
- The formal organisations and structure of Panchayati Raj were first recommended by the Balwant Rai committee. It recommended the establishment of the scheme of democratic decentralisation, which ultimately came to be known as Panchayati Raj.
- Rajasthan (Nagaur district) became the first state to introduce the panchayat system in India.
- In 1977, the Ashok Mehta Committee on Panchayati Raj recommendations included a two-tier system of the panchayat, regular social audit, representation of political parties at all levels of panchayat elections, provisions for a regular election, reservation to SCs/STs in panchayats and a minister for Panchayati Raj in the state council of ministers.
- In 1985, G.V.K. Rao Committee recommended measures to strengthen Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs). For the first time, it recommended a constitutional status of PRIs.
- The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992, conferring constitutional status to PRIs came into force in 1993.
73rd Amendment Act, 1992:
- A new Part-IX to the Constitution was added under the 73rd Amendment enacted in 1992.
- Article 243G of the Constitution intended to empower the Gram Panchayats (GPs) by enabling the State Governments to devolve powers and authority in respect of all 29 Subjects listed in the Eleventh Schedule for local planning and implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice.
- PRIs were established as a three-tier structure based on direct elections at all three tiers – village (Gram Panchayat), intermediate (Panchayat Samiti) and district (Zila Parishad). Exemption from the intermediate tier is given to the small States having less than 20 lakh population.
- The functions which could be devolved to PRIs include preparing plans for economic development and social justice, schemes of economic development and social justice with regard to 29 important matters mentioned in the XI Schedule such as agriculture, primary and secondary education, health and sanitation, drinking water, rural housing, the welfare of weaker sections, social forestry, etc.
- Most of these posts at three levels are to be filled by direct elections.
- The minimum age for contesting elections to the PRIs is 21 years.
- Only the post of Chairman at the District and Block levels should be filled by indirect elections.
- There is provision for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Panchayats proportion to their population, and for women in Panchayats up to one-third of seats.
- State Election Commission to be set up in each State to conduct elections to PRIs.
- The tenure of PRIs is five years.
- Creation of a State Finance Commission in each state every five years.
- Guidelines giving representation to the members of Central and State legislatures in the district and middle-level PRIs, provisions of reservation for backward classes and financial powers to PRIs such as taxes, levy fees, etc. are not mandatory and are left to the states to choose to implement or not.
Significance of PRIs:
- Since getting constitutional status in 1992, PRIs have played a critical role in the development process of the villages. With the government relying more and more on PRIs for the implementation of mega-development programmes, PRIs have cemented their position in the rural governance structure.
- The Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRls) have taken major responsibilities of playing a critical role in implementing mega schemes of the government while ensuring people’s participation in the governance structure of the villages.
Initiatives being taken:
Devolution of Funds, Function and Functionaries to PRIs:
- The funds, function and functionaries that form the three main components of the devolution of power vary across states. A devolution report published by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj in 2015-16 stated that devolution has two main aspects: the operational core that includes funds, function, functionaries, and the support system that includes capacity building of PRIs, operationalizing constitutional mechanisms and introducing systems of transparency and accountability.
- As per Article 280 (30) (bb) of the Constitution, the Union Finance Commission would recommend measures to supplement the resources of the Panchayats in the state on the basis of the recommendation of the Finance Commission of the State.
Rising Financial Devolution to PRIs:
- For the period FY 2020-21, the Fifteenth Finance Commission has awarded a grant of Rs. 60,750 crore, for Rural Local Bodies (RLBs) in 28 states which is the highest annual Finance Commission allocation for the RLBs so far.
- The government has initiated several measures such as incentivising the states which have devolved more functions, funds and functionaries to PRIs, providing financial and technical assistance for capacity building to PRIs to enable them to perform the devolved functions effectively and strengthening systems of budgets, accounting and auditing for bringing in transparency, accountability and efficiency in the functioning of PRIs.
- Unified e-GramSwaraj Portal and mobile application and Svamitva scheme have been implemented.
- The e-GramSwaraj portal helps prepare and execute Gram Panchayat Development Plans. The portal will ensure real-time monitoring and accountability and marks a major step towards digitization down to the Gram Panchayat level.
- The Svamitva scheme helps to map rural inhabited lands using drones and the latest survey methods. The scheme will ensure streamlined planning, revenue collection and provide clarity over property rights in rural areas.
Chapter 6: Livestock: Key for Doubling Farmers’ Income
- India’s livestock sector is one of the largest in the world. It ranks first in the total buffalo population in the world, second in the population of goats, second largest poultry market in the world, third in the population of sheep, fifth in the population of ducks and chicken and tenth in camel population in the world.
- India has 36 recognized breeds of indigenous cattle, 12 of buffalo, 26 of goats, 42 of sheep, 11 of pigs, 5 of horses, 4 of camels, 2 of Mithun, 2 of yak and 4 of poultry. Notably, there has been a decline of 6 per cent in the total indigenous cattle population.
Significance of animal husbandry:
- Animal husbandry provides livelihood to two-third of the rural population, especially the landless and marginal farmers. That is why livestock is considered a living bank for livestock owners and act as insurance against natural calamities and crop failure.
- The livestock sector is showing huge potential for growth, investment and income. Although the sector has only 5 percent share out of the total agricultural investment, it is still viable and exhibiting a promise for raising the income of farmers due to an increase in the requirement of animal protein. Milk production, milk yield, egg production, meat production have shown impressive growth over the years.
- Agriculture contributes 17 percent to India’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), of which 27 percent comes from animal husbandry. Dairy, poultry and aquaculture contribute 4.4 percent to the nation’s GDP.
- About 20.5 million people depend upon livestock for their livelihood; it provides employment to about 8.8 percent of the population in India.
- Despite the steady decline in the agricultural contribution to GDP, the livestock sector has substantially increased its share in the GDP and is also showing further potential of acceleration particularly for the growth of the rural economy.
Initiatives being taken:
- The strategy recommended by the NITI Aayog in 2018 for doubling farmers’ income by 2022 identified seven sources of doubling farmers’ income including improvement in livestock productivity.
- Looking at the strength and potential of Indian livestock in rural development, the government has initiated specific programmes aimed at the livestock sector.
- To promote the livestock and fisheries sector, the Government of India, in 2019, created a new ministry by merging the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Department of Fisheries, and renaming it the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
- The Government of India has launched several schemes/programmes viz., Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Animal Disease Control Programme, Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund, Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund and National Programme for Dairy Development to enhance the overall socio-economic status of the farming community.
Challenges in the Livestock Sector:
- A large population of low-producing cattle (nondescript).
- Lack of availability of pedigreed bulls of indigenous cow.
- Inadequate coverage of artificial insemination services along with qualified technical manpower, particularly in rural and hilly areas.
- The chronic shortage of feed along with the quality of fodder is a major obstacle for enhancing animal productivity. The country remains deficit in dry fodder by 10 percent, in green fodder by 35 percent and in concentrate feed by 33 percent.
- Inadequate disease control programmes including deficiency of vaccines for major disease.
- Poor policies for investment in the livestock sector has been a major obstacle. Only 5 percent of the total money has been invested in livestock.
- Non-availability of chilling facilities for milk in rural areas.
- Inadequate availability of credit.
- Poor access to organised market.
- Limited animal insurance coverage.
- Enhancing the unit production of milk, meat and egg with better feeding, breeding and management practices.
- Availability of affordable and quality feed and fodder throughout the year.
- Use of sex-sorted semen for getting female animals.
- Effective and regular health coverage including timely vaccination.
- Value addition of animal products and their effective marketing.
- Proper marketing of milk along with the establishment of Panchagavya units in rural areas.
- Extensive establishment of biogas units and commercialisation of the organic farming system.
- Establishment of cooperative units and ease in marketing and getting the proper value of animal products.
- Encouraging the rearing of indigenous cows.
- More emphasis on green fodder production.
- Strengthening of veterinary extension services.
- Fast, easy and prompt financial assistance from cooperative society/banks to livestock farmers.
- Promotion of sustainable dairy farming system that allows proper and efficient usage of the resources, without being over-exploited.
- Strengthening of veterinary and para-veterinary infrastructure.
- Greenhouse gas management.
- The integration of animal husbandry with agriculture will definitely help to accomplish the objectives of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.
Chapter 7: Rural Healthcare in India
National Rural Health Mission:
- The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched in 2005.
- The National Rural Health Mission had a bottom-up approach where the onus and focus of health care delivery were on the villages and went up to the district level. The principle was to provide states with adequate and flexible financing and allow them to design their own health interventions for health service delivery in rural India towards common, defined goals.
- The idea was to devolve funds, functions, and functionaries to local community organisations and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs); improve capacity and management of rural healthcare systems; monitor progress of states against standard health parameters; and encourage innovation in human resource management in the sector.
- Socioeconomically backward states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, and Uttar Pradesh, known as the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states, the north-eastern states, Himachal Pradesh and the then state of Jammu and Kashmir were the focus states.
- In 2013, NRHM became a sub-mission under the over-arching National Health Mission with the addition of the National Urban Health Mission (NUMH) as the other sub-mission of the programme.
Rural Healthcare system:
- Rural healthcare delivers services through a three-tier system of sub-centres (SC), primary health care centres (PHC) and community health centres (CHC).
- Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) is a grassroots level health worker who is selected from a village to serve that village. The ASHA works as a liaison between the local rural community and the public health system. They share information on basic health and hygiene practices; counsel women on childbirth and related issues and act as the first point of repository of basic health kits.
Programmes for Rural Health Care:
- Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is a cash incentive programme designed to encourage women to use formal healthcare services for institutional deliveries. The objective is to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality among poor, pregnant women, especially those in rural India.
- Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram was launched in 2011 to eliminate the out-of-pocket expenditure for both pregnant mothers and sick infants upon accessing institutional health care. High out-of-pocket expenditures often dissuaded women from seeking formal health services post-delivery or for neonatal care. The programme provides free drugs, consumables, free diagnostics, free blood and free diet for 3 days during normal delivery and 7 days for caesarean section deliveries. This initiative also covers all ante-natal and post-natal emergencies.
- Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), launched in 2016, provides quality antenatal care, free of cost and universally to all pregnant women on the 9th of every month in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy, and that can be availed at all government facilities. It also engages with the private sector to create campaign awareness and participation.
- The efforts of JSY and other schemes improved the number of institutional deliveries from 38.7 percent to 78.9 percent in the 10 years from 2005 to 2015; the maternal and newborn mortality rates were not affected significantly. Accordingly, Laqshya or the Labour Room and Quality improvement initiative was launched in 2017 as a focused and targeted approach to strengthen key processes related to the labour rooms and maternity operation theatres.
- Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) were established at district levels and sub-district level hospitals.
- The Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram targets adolescents between the age of 10 to 19 years. This group constitutes 22 percent of the Indian population. Investments in this group are to ensure their proper physical, biological and psychological development along with psycho-social, behavioural and sexual education relevant and needed for this age.
- The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram screens children under the age of 18 for four birth deficiencies – Defects at birth, diseases, deficiencies and development delays including disabilities. This initiative has had a significant impact on reducing the child mortality rates under the NRHM by ensuring timely interventions and at the same time reducing the out-of-pocket expenditures.
- The rural health care system also has family welfare initiatives that deliver family planning management services, education and use of contraceptives, menstrual hygiene schemes, sterilisation services and awareness campaigns through public programmes.
- Teeka Express is a mobile van that provides vaccine services in far-reaching areas along with construction, and safe operation of cold chains, points for storing vaccines; routine immunisation and training of field volunteers and medical staff, among other provisions.
- Anaemia is a cause of concern among the rural Indian population. Anaemia is prevalent in more than 40 percent of children between the ages of 6-59 months. Similarly, anaemia is also widely prevalent in women. Anaemia Mukt Bharat targets newborns and infants, school-age children, adolescent boys and girls, women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women. The main interventions under the programme include the provision of folic acid supplements, deworming, year-round behaviour change initiatives, communication campaigns, text alerts, mandatory provision of folic acid fortified foods in public health programmes and addressing non-nutritional causes of anaemia in endemic pockets like malaria and fluorosis.
- The majority of the Indian population continues to live in rural areas. Healthcare is like a public good that is highly associated with a country’s economic growth. As we move towards gaining from our demographic dividend in the next 20-30 years, we must ensure the quality and timely delivery of health services across the country.
- The government must focus on incentivising medical staff to serve the rural community.
- ASHA network that has played a crucial role in health care delivery to rural areas has to be optimally compensated and trained.
- Private sector participation options, for service delivery and management services, have to be explored.
- Need to devolve sufficient funds for the health sector.
Chapter 8: Importance of Infrastructure in Rural Development
- Rural development involves the improvement of the economic and social life of the rural poor and involves the extension of benefits of development to the poorest among those seeking a livelihood in the rural areas.
- Infrastructure is the backbone of any country. It plays a very important role in supporting a nation’s economic growth.
- Rural infrastructure in the country is crucial for agriculture, agro-industries and poverty alleviation in the rural areas. Rural infrastructure provides essential production conditions which are required for social and economic growth and for promoting the quality of life in rural areas.
- The government’s effort is to reduce poverty and increase the quality of life of the rural poor by introducing various major and minor schemes and programmes related to rural infrastructure.
- Roads in rural parts of the country are a very important and critical component of rural development. It is the key to the success of the rural economy; rural health; education; and better road connectivity with the rest of the world.
- Though rural roads had been constructed under various different schemes till the year 2000, there was not a single national policy to construct only rural roads especially the all-weather roads for the unconnected habitations. In December 2000, the Government of India had launched the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) with the aim to provide all-weather access to eligible unconnected habitations. It is a 100 percent centrally sponsored scheme.
- Under PMGSY-I, the aim of the scheme was to provide access to the eligible unconnected habitations in the rural areas with a population of 500 persons and above (census 2001) in plain areas. In respect of Special Category States i.e. hilly and desert areas; the tribal areas, the objective is to connect eligible unconnected habitations with a population of 250 persons and above.
- Under PMGSV-II the focus will be to consolidate the entire rural roads network by up-gradation of selected routes and some major rural links would be also developed.
- The Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) was launched in 2015 with two components.
- To separate agriculture and non-agriculture feeders facilitating judicious rostering of supply to agricultural and non-agricultural consumers in rural areas.
- Strengthening and augmentation of sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure in rural areas, including metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers.
- Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) aims to provide free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas.
- The PM-KUSUM scheme has the objective of increasing farmers’ income, providing a reliable source for irrigation and de-dieselise the farm sector by enabling farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their fallow/barren lands and to sell it to the grid.
- The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households, especially in rural areas.
- It aims to provide deposit free LPG connections to the women of poor households. The scope of PMUY has now been expanded to cover all the poor families in the country subject to fulfilling the terms and conditions.
- The scheme increased the usage of LPG and helped in reducing health disorders, air pollution and deforestation. The use of fossil fuels and conventional fuel like cow-dung, firewood, etc. has serious implications on the health of rural women and children.
- Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) aims to provide pucca houses to all rural homeless and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated houses and providing basic amenities such as improved sanitation, piped drinking water, electricity & gas connection, etc.
- Considerable reduction in open defection post-PMAY-G, usage of the toilet have led to clean and hygienic conditions which led to the improved health status of the PMAY-G household members.
- Owning a pucca house had a positive impact on the beneficiary’s perception about living their lives with dignity and safety, and the majority of the beneficiaries felt a significant improvement in terms of social inclusion as well.
- Income and employment opportunities have also improved.
- The mean expenditure also rose in post-PMAY-G in both food and non-food items as compared to the pre-PMAY-G households indicating an improved living standard.
Water and Sanitation:
- Water is an essential commodity and the whole world is focussing on the scarcity of potable drinking water. Water stress-related issues are now a serious concern across the country. A very focused safe water (Jal Jeevan Mission) and comprehensive sanitation program (Swachch Bharat Mission) have been launched to support the health vision.
- Jal Jeevan Mission is aiming to provide piped water supply to all households. It envisions providing safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India. The programme also implements source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through greywater management, water conservation, rainwater harvesting.
- Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramm): Under the mission (SBMG), all villages, Gram Panchayats, Districts, States and Union Territories in India declared themselves “open-defecation free” (ODF) by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing over 100 million toilets in rural India. To ensure that the open defecation free behaviours are sustained, no one is left behind, and that solid and liquid waste management facilities are accessible, the Mission is moving towards the Phase-II of SBMG i.e ODF-Plus. ODF Plus activities under Phase-II of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) will reinforce ODF behaviours and focus on providing interventions for the safe management of solid and liquid waste in villages.
- The government’s vision is that all “public institutions” at the Gram Panchayat level such as Anganwadis, health and wellness centres, government schools, PDS outlets, post offices and police stations will be provided with digital connectivity.
- BharatNet is the world’s largest rural broadband network project which aims to provide broadband connectivity to all the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats (GPs) across India.
- The infrastructure schemes for rural areas have improved the lives of rural people in different ways and helped in reducing poverty. People are connected to the nearest city centres and the district headquarters by road and also connected by electronic communication. By providing tap water to the households, rural road connectivity and housing, there is a visible improvement in the health indicators and school enrolment. Infrastructure has brought social and economic change among rural households and empowered them to live their lives with dignity and safety with improved living standards.